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Vice rector resigns; UVa. board names Carl Zeithaml as interim president

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In another casualty of the controversy over the ouster of UVa. president Teresa Sullivan, Board of Visitors Vice Rector Mark J. Kington resigned Tuesday afternoon, hours after the board voted to name Carl P. Zeithaml as interim president, following an 11-hour meeting. Zeithaml will assume the position effective Aug. 16, a day after President Teresa Sullivan steps down, following her forced ouster by the board.

Kington of Alexandria submitted his resignation, effective immediately, in a message to Gov. Bob McDonnell. The university’s Faculty Senate had asked Kington and Rector Helen Dragas to resign Monday, hours before the board held a closed session to appoint an interim that lasted until the early hours Tuesday. Kington’s action comes nine days after Dragas announced to a shocked university community on June 10 that Sullivan was leaving after only two years on the job. According to his letter of resignation posted at the Cavalier Daily student newspaper web site, Kington thanked McDonnell for the opportunity to serve. “... To help bring about new leadership on the Board of Visitors at this critical time, I am resigning my position as vice rector and as a board member effective immediately,” he wrote. “I believe this is the right thing to do, and I hope that it will begin a needed healing process at the university.”

Kington, Dragas and board member Hunter Craig constituted the three-member board committee that asked Sullivan to step down.

According to several published reports, a highly-ranked professor also submitted his resignation Tuesday. Bill A. Wulf, a professor in the Department of of Computer Science and president emeritus of the National Academy of Engineering, reportedly is leaving, effective immediately, because he no longer wants to be associated with U.Va and the controversy over Sullivan’s removal.

Zeithaml, long-time dean of the McIntire School of Commerce, will take a leave of absence from that post during his tenure as interim president.
“Carl Zeithaml is the perfect choice to serve as interim president while we undertake a national search for a new president,” Helen Dragas, rector of the university, said in a statement released after the board’s vote.  “His length of service, experience leading the undergraduate business school and his commitment to the university will enable him to hit the ground running.”

The board selected Zeithaml in the early morning hours Tuesday, following a marathon closed session. The meeting followed a week of vocal protests against Sullivan’s abrupt ouster, which was announced June 10. More than 2,000 faculty and staff members, students and alumni came to the Rotunda on Monday — the site of the board’s meeting — in a show of support for Sullivan.

“I want to thank the U.Va. family for enduring the tumult of this difficult week,” Dragas said in her statement. “ It has been exceptionally trying for all of us, and we accept our great share of responsibility for that. As we look forward to the transition to new leadership at the university, our community can rest assured that it will have a great deal of input.”

According to U.Va., Zeithaml has overseen significant improvements over the past 15 years — illustrated by consistently high national and international rankings — which he credits to the teamwork of McIntire faculty, staff, students and alumni. In March, Bloomberg Businessweek ranked the McIntire School as the No. 2 undergraduate business program in the country, and the No. 1 MBA feeder school.

Zeithaml specializes in the field of strategic management with an emphasis on global and competitive strategy. He joined the McIntire School in 1997. Before that, he spent 11 years on the faculty in the Kenan-Flagler Business School at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill.

“I am sincerely honored and humbled to be called upon to serve the university in this capacity,” Zeithaml said. “I realize that it is a very difficult time for many people within our community, but I look forward to working with our faculty, students, staff, alumni and university leaders to move U.Va. forward.”


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